Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is divided into stages in order to help people understand how the disease might unfold in a loved one. However, not everyone experiences the same symptoms at the same rate!

On average, a person with Alzheimer’s disease passes away within four to six years of diagnosis. Some people live on for as long as twenty more years after a diagnosis. In general, Alzheimer’s disease is divided into mild, moderate, and severe stages. Experts have developed a more detailed list, even including pre-Alzheimer’s mental states:

  • Stage 1: No impairment. A person experiences no memory problems that are evident to health care professionals. You could argue that everyone is at this stage, and it is important to note that Alzheimer’s disease is NOT inevitable. Not everyone will develop this disease.
  • Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline. A person may experience memory lapses, especially in forgetting names, familiar words, or the location of familiar objects. Problems may not be evident to health care professionals or friends and family. This may simply be age-related memory loss, rather than a warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Stage 3 is where mild cognitive decline occurs. A person may experience:

  • Difficulty remembering names or words that is noticeable to friends and family.
  • A decreased ability to remember the names of new people.
  • Performance issues at work or in social settings. The cognitive decline begins to impair normal interactions.
  • A decreased ability to plan and/or organize.
  • Losing valuable objects.
  • Retaining very little information after just reading something.

The key here is that this is the point where friends and family begin to notice a problem. Memory or concentration issues may be measurable by a health care professional through an interview or other testing. Some people can be diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease at this point.

There are four more stages of Alzheimer’s disease — we’ll take a look at them next.